In the digital realm as outside of it, the public has a right to insist on regulations where the safety of our kids is at stake.


Critics of the Kids Online Safety Act (KOSA) are making a last-ditch bid to scare policy-makers away by invoking the specter of political censorship. David McGarry, a policy analyst at the Taxpayers Protection Alliance, provides a fine example in National Review. Responding to my own argument that KOSA reflects a reasonable effort to abide by our shared norms about child safety (for instance, keeping kids out of dangerous environments such as nightclubs), McGarry writes, “Going online resembles walking out the front door more than entering a nightclub. The internet — much of which flows through social-media sites these days — is not a place one frequents only for a night out.” In his view, “Speech-limiting proposals like KOSA invite First Amendment scrutiny while forbidding minors to buy alcohol does not.”

Policymakers should not allow themselves to be fooled by this misdirection. Of course, McGarry is quite correct: Logging on to social media, through which we increasingly encounter the internet at large, can indeed resemble walking out the front door. He is right that social media is ubiquitous and hard to escape. It is, by design, so psychologically all-consuming that leaked internal research from Instagram indicates that, for many teenagers, the “boundary between social media and IRL [in real life] is blurred; feelings and boundaries cross between the two.” It does not, and cannot, follow, however, that because online space is ubiquitous — like “walking out the front door” — it should be unregulated.

Continue reading at National Review
Chris Griswold
Chris Griswold is the policy director at American Compass.
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